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gakinme
03-04-2010, 04:40 PM
I'm wearing down my set of 12 of General's Pastel Chalk Pencil and am in the market for some real pastel pencils.

I would appreciate your thoughts on which pastel pencil is the best on the market that is lightfast and is not too grainy, flaky.

Sometimes, I just like to use pastel pencils to draw like most people do with colored pencils. I like my colors loud, bright and fast - none of that muted tones from colored pencil sets. It has to be lightfast.

I often draw on dark backgrounds especially black paper. Portraits, monsters, cities are my areas of interest. So if you could give me some pointers, I'd appreciate it.

I at times use them for doing fine details on soft pastel /pan pastel portraits too. I already have Cretacolor Hard Pastel Carre sticks but sometimes, I need just a tinge of a sharper point for the finest details.

figureativepainter
03-04-2010, 05:15 PM
I like Conte and Stabilo-CarbOthello pastel pencils. Conte are bright and full of pigment, but a bit gritty. Carbothellos are a bit more muted and have a finer point then Conte, but are somewhat smoother in the application. I also have a set of Gioconda that I don't use all that much because their pigments are more chalky then Conte and Carbothello.

Ruthie57
03-04-2010, 05:29 PM
My favourites of those I have tried are the faber castell pastel pencils. I believe they have good lightfastness ratings. Whether they would be bright enough in colour for you I'm not sure. I find the carbothellos almost impossible to sharpen as they keep breaking but maybe they are bad stock.
The Derwents have good colours but many of them are hard to sharpen to a very fine point. Not sure about colourfastness though.

robertsloan2
03-04-2010, 06:04 PM
I like my Cretacolor ones. I think you bought the Cretacolor Pastel Carre hard pastels -- the core on the pastel pencils is exactly the same material, so if you like those, the Cretacolor pastel pencils will be a familiar texture in all the same colors you have in hard pastels.

Carb-Othello are very soft but the ones I used to have had a lot of internal breakage. Just like Ruthie said, they're almost impossible to sharpen without breaking. Mine were anyway. It drove me crazy because I really liked them when I could get a point to keep from breaking off. Cretacolor stand up to my pressure habits a lot better.

I haven't tried the new Derwent formula yet, but they recently reformulated them to make them softer. Cretacolor are definitely lightfast. I got mine on sale and with the sale price they were a price leader per pencil.

I haven't tried the Conte ones yet, but I'll probably really like them.

gakinme
03-05-2010, 10:52 AM
Thank you, figurativepainter, Ruthie, Robert, for your input. It looks like Cretacolor is the way to go then.

ourcassidy!
03-05-2010, 11:32 AM
I have the Faber Castell pencils and like them. Although they have a limited number of colors in the pencils compared to say the Polychrome pencils. I have the Conte pencils as well but find them terrible hard and scratchy...I don't have nor have I tried the Carb-Othello ones, but have heard only good stuff about that brand.

Pam

saramathewson
03-05-2010, 04:39 PM
I only have a set of twelve general's but have heard such good things about carb-othellos and they are Dakota's #1 seller so if and when I buy some it will be those. The art store near me has them in open stock as well as in sets. i think they may be the only brand they carry. They only carry Rembrandt and Schmincke in soft pastels too and only nupastels in the semi hard ones. I'm glad they have some pastel stuff but would love more choices. but it is a small store. I think there is a bigger art store somewhere in town i just need to find it. As it is i spent over $100.00 there the other day mostly on pastels. They had some Schminckes and Senneliers on close out. Only $1.99 a piece so I grabbed a bunch of those plus about twelve of the regular priced Schminckes in colors I have been running out of since i only have about that many<G> Guess I got off topic. I think with most pastels it is important not to drop them or there will be internal breakage except for one kind it may be the pitt ones that have the pastel part coated in resin so they are less likely to break if dropped.

Sara

Kevin2417
03-05-2010, 05:42 PM
I personally enjoy CarbOthellos the most. I have also tried Fiber-Castell's and do enjoy them as well. As previously noted, Fiber Castells are harder and do not break as easily but I do not think they compare to CabOthello's when it comes to color. I wouldn't say you are sacrificing a tremendous amount of color or anything I just think Carb's produce a richer color.

With my set of Carb's, I find sharpening extremely easy. Maybe I am lucky but mine do not break that much. They are more brittle than Fiber's but I really haven't had much trouble with them. I was able to find the GREATEST sharpener for my Carbs. Well...you do get a sharpener with a set but my town sells Stabilo sharpeners and I LOVE THEM!

One thing I would recommend is when you do find the set of pencils that you like, you may want to purchase an additional set of black and white pencils. Again, maybe its just me but I run out of those colors VERY fast. I really do notice the difference between a pure black and a charcoal pencil. I had to buy the charcoal pencils as they sell in my town but that charcoal sure does fade... I just recently bought 10 additional pencils of black and white.

Kevin

Lynndidj
03-05-2010, 08:49 PM
I have a small set of Derwents that I was given as a "freebie" at a workshop about 2 years ago. I really like them, but don't know if they are the new or the old formula.

Lynn

WC Lee
03-05-2010, 09:31 PM
Dakota Art Pastels is having an online special on Cretacolor 72 pastel set and 72 pencil set, both sets for $99.00. I have never tried this brand before so I can't comment on them but I do have Conte and Carbothello. Conte is harder than the Carbothello but works great on any type of paper, even bond paper, with minimal smudging. Carbothello is softer thus smudges easier.

When I used to sketch with the pencils, I would block in colors with the pencil at an angle almost parallel to the paper. So when I do need a point, it is there without me needing to sharpen it. Also, I wouldn't use a pencil sharpener if I really need a point, easier to shave off the wood casing and then sharpen on a piece of sandpaper.

gakinme
03-05-2010, 09:49 PM
Thank you, Pam, Sara, Kevin, Lynn, and W.C. for your tips.

That's right. I forgot that if I keep using the hard pastel sticks to a fine fine point, it would be just like a pencil. Kevin, thanks for the tip on a Stabilo sharpener. The ones I have that comes with Prisma and General's are hit and miss at times.

Carbothello now sounds very interesting too, now that WC has solved the sharpening problem here. Man, that 2 set of cretacolor is so tempting.:lol:

And very true, Kevin. My white usually goes first in everyone of my sets.

Sam Harrison
03-06-2010, 05:26 AM
My primary stock of pastel pencils (about 20 in total) are CarbOthellos. They're soft and easily blended but also fragile, as others have mentioned.
They work well on dark paper or over watercolor.

They give ratings on the side of the pencil with a lightfastness rating: of the ones I have, the earthy colors and grays are very lightfast but the two dark blues (prussian and ultramarine) are not. I'm not certain as to the reds, greens, or yellows.

I don't have the Cretacolor pencils but I do have the 72 set of hard pastels. They are QUITE hard, so they hold a point well. Both the sticks and the pencils are water-soluble, which is fun to play to with.

*Deirdre*
03-06-2010, 06:20 AM
I like Conte and Stabilo-CarbOthello pastel pencils...and Pitts! I do have a full set of Derwents as well...- and the reasons I like each of them are pretty much covered already! The key piece of equipment is the pencil sharpener - I use the Staples electric sharpener... which will accept all of them...but only if you sacrifice all of the outer coating in the bigger diameter ones like Derwents.
I have to say Dianna put me on to the CarbOthello ones...and she's right....they are good! Plus her other recommendations the Generals white & Charcoal pencils:thumbsup:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Mar-2010/33616-IMG_2966d.gif
The pencils in current use are in the big pots. but they decant back into the smaller oner on completion of painting.

robertsloan2
03-06-2010, 05:32 PM
My sample packs from Derwent just arrived, a blister pack of six pastel pencils and another with six hard pastel sticks. I charted the pencils in the blister pack. Once again, Derwent has incredible taste in choosing exactly what colors to include in very small sets. It's a versatile sixer!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Mar-2010/70184-Derwent-Pastel-Pencils-Color-Chart.jpg

The top bar of each color is just shaded, the second finger blended, the third blended by going over it with the white pencil. The white pencil is just as soft and smooth as the others. I really like their texture and they're very pigment rich. This is the new formula.

This is the package with the new formula, it has a portrait on it.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Mar-2010/70184-Derwent-Pastel-Pencils-6.jpg

The old formula has a tin or blister pack with a drawing of poppies on it instead of this girl's face. Blick's listing shows the old formula tins. I know I want more of these, will probably buy the full range, but am going to have to write to Blick to be sure that when I do I get the full range new formula rather than the old formula that people complained about being too hard.

They blend beautifully, based on how the white blended the colors. I know the colors aren't going to match my Cretacolors, so at the best I'm looking at nearly doubling my range adding the Derwents to them. I'm still happy with my Cretacolors, but if I'd tried these sooner (if they'd been available) I might have gotten these instead -- provided I could find the new formula.

chuas2
03-06-2010, 10:37 PM
I love my Contes, Sandra. Have CarbOthellos also, but the Contes seem smoother for some reason. They are a bit thicker than CarbOthellos, so if I want a fine fine point, I use a sandpaper block...just a swipe sharpens it nicely.

You don't say what kind of paper you use. I find Carbs work well on LaCarte, but I prefer Conte on Wallis, or other sanded papers. Haven't tried Derwent.
Chuas

gakinme
03-07-2010, 05:05 AM
Thank you, Sam, Deidre, Robert, chuas2 for your comment.

Robert, thanks for the chart on the Derwent Pastel pencils. You are so thorough. Those 6 colors indeed would give you a good range. So you are going to buy the whole set?

Deirdre, thank you for the photo of your set and your experience with the pencils.

After reading all your remarks, I happened by a fine art store I haven't explored yet and they actually sell open stock Stabilo Carbothello and Conte pastel pencils. I bought red, blue, yellow and white for the Carbothello ones and Conte, they didn't have white so I substituted it with a General's Charcoal White pencil for now and did a bunch of experiments tonight.

It's true what figurative painter said. Conte is bright and full of pigment. But as Pam said, it's scratchier. I don't mind the scratchiness because Cretacolor hard pastel carre sticks are even more scratchy. And Conte is dustier!

Robert, on the Dick Blick website and Dakota Arts site, both said that Cretacolor pencils are slightly softer than the hard pastel carre sticks. The store has one box with a sanguine color type and it's even scratchier than the Conte that I tried. Now I'm really confused. :lol:

Anyway, here's what I found out. The top line is two swipes of the same color. The second line is smudged with finger horizontally.

Strathmore Black Artagain paper 9x12 inch.

1. The General's Charcoal white pencil surpassed all whites.
2. Stabilo Carbothello is more blendable than all the other three brands. But in general, because they are so opaque, they are best used for hatching, I think.
3. Conte is definitely grainier, but not as grainy as Cretacolor Hard Pastel carre sticks.
4. General's Pastel Chalk pencils do not wear down as easily and holds a point very well. But now looking at it, it doesn't have a lot of pigment. Carbothello wears down the fastest. Conte is nice and hard and not wearing down much nor was Cretacolor.
5. Carbothello has more normal colors.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Mar-2010/86669-fish_test.jpg

For my second experiment, I tried laying down blue pan pastel first and then started doing the coral.

Fabriano Tiziano Charcoal Gray paper with texture.

That's when I realized that Carbothello refuses to come up in colors. Conte barely made some yellow. I used General's Pastel Chalk and the lines were too thin. I remember reading the American Artist magazine today and an artist said that he never used pastel pencils in his soft pastel paintings because he didn't want things to look too detail at the end. The General's Pastel Chalk lines gave me exactly that feeling. So I used Cretacolor Hard Pastel Carre and the colors went on superbly. SMi soft pastels was no problem at all too. So in such a scenario when there's an under layer, I guess different pencils react differently.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Mar-2010/86669-fish_mixpastel1.jpg

Then I tried acrylic underpainting and acrylic paper from Artist's Loft.

The colors for the coral are from Conte, Carbothello and Cretacolor and already they look brighter than the previous experiment. So I guess it depends on the underpainting.

Before pastel.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Mar-2010/86669-fish_acrylic1.jpg

After pastel. Cretacolor is so handy for such hard pressure type of work.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Mar-2010/86669-fish_acrylic2.jpg


Then I used a 4x4 inch velour black paper for Carbothello on the viewer's left and Conte on the viewer's right.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Mar-2010/86669-dog_test.jpg

As you could see, cont is brighter and grainier and Carbothello is softer. Both have their good points. The extreme white on both sides were the Carbothello white pencil on the left and the General's White Charcoal pencil on the right dipped in water to paint them on.

chuas2, I use all kinds of paper. I still have colorfix paper, Canson Mi-Tientes paper, normal heavyduty paper, Stonehenge paper, Strathmore pastel paper to try these pencils on. Perhaps after I try a few more pieces, I could decide which set to buy.

The coral fish and the dog were photo references from AlainJ for this week's WDE here (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=611070).

gakinme
03-07-2010, 05:32 AM
Also, for those who has Carbothello, would you be kind enough to take a look at the pencils as to how many of them has very low lightfastness?

I bought four today and the ratings are as such: white is 5 star (the best), blue is 1 star, red is 2 star, yellow is 4 star.

I wonder what is the lightfastness of conte pencils.

robertsloan2
03-07-2010, 12:31 PM
Wow! Thank you for doing such thorough tests -- and including the Conte, when I haven't even tried those. You're tempting me to get some now, since they are so strong and I'm so used to using pencil shaped things. With luck there won't be too many overlaps in exact colors either. With the Derwent ones at least I'm pretty sure there won't be, Derwent has a lot of proprietary colors.

If you try a Color Conte stick at the store, can you tell me whether those pencils have the same texture as the sticks? If like Cretacolor they're the same material, I may put off getting the Conte in pencil form.

gakinme
03-07-2010, 01:58 PM
Robert, are you thinking of this set ?

http://www.dickblick.com/products/conte-crayons/

In both stores, I don't think they don't have sticks in open stock. I'll take a look again. If they have a small colored pack, I'll get one.

On Cretacolor, I don't think the material is exactly the same between the pencil and the sticks. At both Dakota and Blick, it says pencils are softer.

robertsloan2
03-07-2010, 04:05 PM
Yes, that is exactly the Conte set I'm suggesting. They are indispensible to me and I still use the little 12 color set so often that the colors are wearing down faster than the ones in the big set. They are bright spectrum colors but mix so easily going over each other or smudged that I can get a full range out of that little twelve color set. 24 color is a bit more convenient. Full range is a joy and you've seen me do entire paintings with the 48 color range.

I don't know many places that have the color Conte in open stock, usually they come in packs of two in the sanguine, brown, black and white colors only. But they are the same texture as the sanguine and black Conte colors, and they are so smooth, consistent, pigment rich and blendable that they're a joy. I know you love smudging to shade, so I think you'll really enjoy them.

I use them under other pastels all the time too and I'm always surprised at how long those little sticks last, they really go far. Probably because of their density.

gakinme
03-07-2010, 05:07 PM
Robert, if it is the same material as the sanguine and bistre conte pack, I have one of those pack. No, the texture is slightly different. The conte sticks are a just a tinge more powdery. These conte pastel pencils are slightly harder and more together. Actually, now that I tried more sampling of the 4 hard pastels, I like the conte even more because of the vibrancy of the colors. But Paula Ford just mentioned to me about Faber Castell Polychromos Pastel pencil sets too. I need to see if I could get some samples.

If anyone has them, could you give me a quick test against any of the Conte pastel pencil, Cretacolor pencils, or Carbothello pencils so I could see what they look like on paper please?

Cretacolor is crumbly if you are heavy handed. It's all over everywhere. But that grainy look sometimes is very cute on some pieces.

Carbothello doesn't smudge as much as Conte pastel pencils or Conte sticks but it is creamy indeed.

I'm going to draw a couple of pieces on white paper next to test them out further. :lol:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Mar-2010/86669-testconte.jpg

By the way, I had to sharpen my Carbothello already because it is worn down since last night. I didn't have to for the Conte because they are so hard.

I used the General's All-Art sharpener that comes with the General's set and it worked fine for now. No breakage yet.

gakinme
03-07-2010, 06:43 PM
I did two quick sketches based on AlainJ's All Media Event of this week's here (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=611070). The Conte pencils has such a wider diameter that I need to sharpen it before I could do the eyes. I also needed to draw it bigger too. In terms of color and smudginess, in a small drawing like this, they both are very similar. I used too much white for blending with the Carbothello piece but it is smoother as a result. The second piece has more a poster look. Not an exact copy of his wife's pix but great pose!


Acadamie Heavyweight Sketchbook 8.5x11 inch
Carbothello Pastel Pencil: red, white, blue, yellow

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Mar-2010/86669-primary_alainwife1a.jpg



Acadamie Heavyweight Sketchbook 8.5x11 inch
Conte Pastel Pencil: red, blue, yellow
Primo's Charcoal Pencil : white

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Mar-2010/86669-primary_alainwife2.jpg

GaryNorthants
03-07-2010, 10:22 PM
Hi,
I use Faber, Carbothello, Derwent, Rowney and Giocondas. The Fabers are my first choice for consistency. The link takes you to my colour charts comparing all brands together. You'll need to scroll down beneath the videos.
Best wishes
Gary
http://www.gmrfineart.com/page23.html

gakinme
03-08-2010, 12:54 AM
Thank you, Gary, for your link. Your videos are so good especially the portrait one. It's so cute to see such sped up videos. I just bought one Faber Castell Polychromos pastel stick from Dick Blick. I didn't see any pastel pencils earlier on and now I see it. Next order.

Pamela Ericson
08-19-2010, 09:15 PM
Gary, Gary, Gary at [email address removed]........I can't thank you enough for the link to your videos and the AWESOME color chart for the pastel pencils. I stumbled across your link today and just in time. I have been trying to decide on which brand to buy. I paint with Van Gogh H2Oils and they are being discontined, so I thought I'd try pencils for awhile. The watercolor were too washed out for my taste and the colored pencils are a nightmare to blend... I never knew pastel pencils existed, and thanks to you I decided to go with the Faber Castell brand. I can't wait to get started. Also, your videos are so inspiring. I love drawing animals and found your animal portraits eye popping. The King Charles Spaniel made my mouth drop, truly. I don't mean to keep gushing on so I'll zip it; but keep up the great work!

allydoodle
08-19-2010, 10:54 PM
I have two sets of Carb-Othello's, and a full set of Derwent. I don't use pastel pencils all that much in paintings, but I sometimes use them in portrait workshops. I do have a suggestion for those of you that experience breakage when sharpening (a very common and frustrating thing!). Dcam, I think his real name is Derek, recommended this sharpener a few months back in one of his threads, so I went out and purchased it. I have to say, breakage is not an issue any more. It really works great. Here is a link to it:

http://www.aswexpress.com/art-supply/catalogs/0057113000000

It's only $15, and it's a manual sharpener. What makes it work so well with pastel pencils is that it has a stablizer that you can pull out before you sharpen. It keeps the pencil from wobbling when it gets sharpened, thus reducing breakage. It really does work!

Anne-Marie
08-20-2010, 03:05 AM
I got the pencil sampler from Dakota back in May to help me decide when the time came that I could order some, and so yesterday I spent a good hour trying all the types out.

My favorite was actually Daler Rowney--I thought it was the smoothest by far. It's also on clearance at Dakota, last I checked! But since I was going to take advantage of the 20% off Blick coupon + free shipping (there is another one running now--15% off and free shipping for orders over $100) and Blick didn't have them, I decided I would go with something else.

The Faber-Castells were quite nice. Out of all the pencils, it sharpened to the finest point. It, too, was quite smooth. But alas, much cheaper on the Dakota site than the Blick site (and I also have to pay tax at Blick and not at Dakota) so I decided to save that purchase, too, for when I use Dakota.

My least favorite was Conte: I didn't like the big diameter of the pencil, found it the scratchiest, and it was difficult to sharpen to a point, even when using a sharpener that allowed for the big barrel.

Carb Othello was okay. I considered this, but then when I looked at their colors on Blick, they seemed very much slated towards neutrals. Like, half the full set seemed very neutral to me. I decided against them.

Creatacolor was okay. It seemed that they resisted the paper, though. (Full disclosure: I was only using regular, smooth sketchbook paper) It seemed like you had to press hard and then I was afraid to break the "lead". It also seemed a wee bit grainy.

This left Derwent. The one I got in my pack was the old formula. It was okay. Not as smooth as Daler Rowney, and I couldn't get it to as fine point as the Faber-Castells, but it was a (distant) second (or tied with another brand for second) in both categories. When I looked at their colors at Blick, that is what clinched it for me: gorgeous, rainbow colors, with the focus on the chromatics rather than the neutrals. That did it for me! I ordered a full set at 20% off.

If Dakota had one of their free shipping deals, I would have gotten the Rowneys, even though they have a very small set (in the 30's). I may have then fleshed it out with the Faber-Castells. As it is, I'm happy with the color variety of the Derwents, and I've been very happy with their products (i.e. Graphictint water color pencils and their regular watercolor pencils) in the past. I didn't mind the old formulation; feel like I'm taking a bit of a chance with the new, but givent hat Robert likes them, I'm resting a little easier. :-)

Hope this helps. The bottom line is: I really recommend you get one of each to try out, or the sampler pack from Dakota :-) You gotta try them for yourself to see what you like--

Anne-Marie
08-20-2010, 03:08 AM
Hi,
I use Faber, Carbothello, Derwent, Rowney and Giocondas. The Fabers are my first choice for consistency. The link takes you to my colour charts comparing all brands together. You'll need to scroll down beneath the videos.
Best wishes
Gary
http://www.gmrfineart.com/page23.html

FANTASTIC!!!! Thank you!!!

Potoma
08-20-2010, 03:50 PM
Apparently Derwent has undergone an overhaul.

Dakota Arts is advertising them with a sale.
http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/pencils-derwent.aspx
They max out at 72 vs the old 90. They're also thinner with thinner leads.

Glad to see this, as I am hoping to make a purchase soon. Several times in my art career I have purchased online what I thought was the new and it turned out to be the old. I think I could trust Dakota about this.

Anne-Marie
08-20-2010, 10:59 PM
My sample packs from Derwent just arrived, a blister pack of six pastel pencils and another with six hard pastel sticks. I charted the pencils in the blister pack. Once again, Derwent has incredible taste in choosing exactly what colors to include in very small sets. It's a versatile sixer!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Mar-2010/70184-Derwent-Pastel-Pencils-Color-Chart.jpg

The top bar of each color is just shaded, the second finger blended, the third blended by going over it with the white pencil. The white pencil is just as soft and smooth as the others. I really like their texture and they're very pigment rich. This is the new formula.

This is the package with the new formula, it has a portrait on it.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Mar-2010/70184-Derwent-Pastel-Pencils-6.jpg

The old formula has a tin or blister pack with a drawing of poppies on it instead of this girl's face. Blick's listing shows the old formula tins. I know I want more of these, will probably buy the full range, but am going to have to write to Blick to be sure that when I do I get the full range new formula rather than the old formula that people complained about being too hard.

They blend beautifully, based on how the white blended the colors. I know the colors aren't going to match my Cretacolors, so at the best I'm looking at nearly doubling my range adding the Derwents to them. I'm still happy with my Cretacolors, but if I'd tried these sooner (if they'd been available) I might have gotten these instead -- provided I could find the new formula.

Robert, thank you for posting this. I've never had pastel pencils before getting my Sampler pack and don't really know how to use them. Thus, the use alone/blend with finger/use with white pencil trio was instructive! Thank you!

Just got my full pack of Derwents today and so it will be fun to try this with them!

allydoodle
08-20-2010, 11:04 PM
Ann-Marie,

Just a little more info for you if you didn't know........ pastel pencils can be used to blend colors, instead of your fingers (I personally don't like finger blending all that much. Only use it in the sky.) You can use the pencils to blend colors and blur hard edges. Works pretty good. I don't do it often, but it's nice to know you can.